Motivational text messages sent to smokers’ mobile phones can double their chances of giving up tobacco, reported The Guardian.
The story is based on a large UK study that looked at whether a six-month programme of supportive text messages could help smokers quit.
It compared a group who received positive messages to another group who were given details of other support programmes.
At six months, those receiving texts were twice as likely to quit, with a quitting rate of 10.7% compared to the other group’s rate of 4.9%.
This study took several steps to ensure the accuracy of its results.
For example, saliva tests were used to verify how accurately people had reported their non-smoking and, in their analyses, the researchers counted people who dropped out of the study as failing to quit.
While the quit rate was relatively low in both groups, the researchers say it was comparable to the number of people who succeed using other forms of help, such as counselling.
As a relatively cheap intervention that could reach large numbers of people, text messaging is potentially cost effective, an issue the authors will address in a forthcoming study.
The trial did not directly compare text messaging with other methods for quitting smoking, such as nicotine replacement therapy or behavioural support, so text messaging still needs to be assessed in relation to existing treatments.